Depression is a mental disorder that will affect a lot of people. This also includes teenagers. If it goes untreated, it can lead to serious consequences.
This guide will go over the ten things you’ll need to know about depression and how it affects teenagers specifically. With the concerns of suicide (as well as numbers increasing in young people), the mental health issue needs to be addressed more than ever. If you or someone you know has a teenager dealing with depression, a BasePoint Academy official can help.
Let’s talk more about depression and what you need to do to help your teen get through it.
Look for the signs
The signs of depression can be similar in teens compared to adults. However, there are some distinctions that may arise. For example, they may have issues with authority and also partake in substance abuse.
They may also have poor academic performance, changes in their sleeping and eating patterns, and undergo a myriad of mood changes. These symptoms will last an average or two or more weeks. If they are exhibiting any kind of suicidal thoughts or actions, you’ll need to get them help as soon as possible.
It can be difficult to diagnose
Because mood swings are normal in teens, diagnosing depression within this age group is a challenge. At the same time, they may not have a good understanding with their expression of feelings. With that in mind, it may be a good idea to look out for the other symptoms.
Just because one person is exhibiting a certain behavior, it may not mean they’re struggling with a certain issue. That’s why finding more than two additional symptoms may be key. The sooner you are able to spot them, the better your chances of making sure that your teen gets the help they need.
The risk of teen suicide is still prevalent
Each year, 5000 people from age 15 to 24 have committed suicide. The numbers have tripled in the last half century. Today, suicide is one of the second leading cases of death in young people.
In adolescents, it’s one of the top three causes of death. Suicide attempts may also be common if it’s linked to a young person being triggered by a specific situation. It’s important to look out for what could be potentially self-destructive behavior.
Self-harm, thoughts of suicide (and even attempts) may happen. The sooner you notice your teen exhibits these behaviors, it’s a sign that they are dealing with something severe. The last thing you want to do is let it go unnoticed or untreated.
Warning signs may be subtle
The warning signs for depression and suicide are a bit more subtle than one will realize. That’s why being aware of what they are will put you a step ahead. For example, you may find that the changes in sleeping and eating patterns will be one of them.
Irrational behavior, changes in appearance and personality, even poems or essays about death can also be signs that will be subtle. If you notice any of this, it may be a good time to intervene and find out what’s going on with your teen.
At this point, a mental health evaluation is a given. You don’t want to take anything to chance.
Give yourself the opportunity to listen
Teens may feel like they don’t need to talk to anyone about how they are feeling. However, you will need to do your part to lend them an ear. They may need someone to talk to about the issues they are facing.
When you are listening, it’s important to be compassionate and understanding. The last thing you want to do is lecture them or use upsetting language. It’s important that you use your instincts as you listen to them.
You should also ask questions including the topic of suicide. However, you may want to be careful about how you word things. Pay attention to what they say about it.
At the end of the day, seeking professional help for your teen is what is necessary.
Know what the causes are
One of the major questions to ask is how did this depression occur? Depression in teens can occur due to one or several factors. For example, little to no social support because of their sexuality (identifying as LGBT) can be one of the reasons.
It also explains why more LGBT teens and young people are more likely to develop depression. Not to mention, they are also more likely to attempt suicide (or die by it) compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Other factors can also include being bullied, stressful experiences that are ongoing or have happened in the past, or any health conditions they have developed both mentally and physically.
Social media use may worsen the problem
With so many teens using social media, it can be used as an outlet of negativity. For example, teens may use it to bully others (or be on the receiving end of it). Some may use it as a tool to gain external validation from other people.
The lack of such validation would make them feel worthless or depressed. It would be wise to have your teen refrain from using social media for the foreseeable future.
Having your teen get involved can be good
Encourage your teen that volunteering or getting involved in certain clubs and programs will be good for them. You want to let them know that doing things that make them happy will keep their mind off of negativity. You want them to feel good about themselves
This can be a challenge at first because of their lack of interest or motivation. But overtime, it will be a huge help for them and boost their self-esteem.
Encourage physical activity
This includes regular exercise. This is known to boost mood and help decrease depression symptoms. It doesn’t have to be strenuous.
It can be as simple as a regular walk or jog. Have them make plans to do something light on a regular basis. They’ll feel good knowing they can move around and be able to enjoy the outside world, even by themselves.
Make sure they get the right amount of sleep
On average, teens will need at least 9 to 10 hours of sleep per night. It’s important for them to make sure they are in bed at a regular time. Staying up late will hurt their chances of getting a good night’s rest.
For example, an ideal bedtime would be 9PM on school nights. This means they should be awake by 6AM to get ready for the day. The sleep schedule on non-school nights can vary provided that they meet the suggested hours.